Thursday, October 14, 2010
From an article in Sunday's New York Times magazine, President Obama seems to think that, regardless of the outcome of the mid-term elections on November 2, Republicans will have to work harder with him:
Obama expressed optimism to me that he could make common cause with Republicans after the midterm elections. “It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible,” he said, “either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”
Please note that the President isn't talking about doing anything to meet Republicans halfway; he expects them to work harder to accommodate him.
That's a pretty incredible statement, coming from him. Remember this?
Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”That was in January 2009, before he even took the oath of office. Since then, he's rammed through hugely unpopular health-care reform legislation, without reading it, without the votes of a single Republican. Clearly, this is a President who expects the mountain to come to him, no matter what.
Actually, have a good look at that New York Times piece; it's got quite a few gems in it that I wouldn't have expected of them. For example:
That presumes that what he did was the right thing, a matter of considerable debate. The left thinks he did too little; the right too much. But what is striking about Obama’s self-diagnosis is that by his own rendering, the figure of inspiration from 2008 neglected the inspiration after his election.How can he say that with a straight face? "Good jobs to the jobless", when unemployment is higher (at 9.6%, at best) than when he took office, and higher than the 8% he was going to save us from with his stimulus package? Does he really believe in his own rhetoric about slowing the rise of the oceans?
Perhaps that should have come as no surprise. When Obama secured the Democratic nomination in June 2008, he told an admiring crowd that someday “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”
I read that line to Obama and asked how his high-flying rhetoric sounded in these days of low-flying governance. “It sounds ambitious,” he agreed. “But you know what? We’ve made progress on each of those fronts.” [. . .] “It would be very hard for people to look back and say, You know what, Obama didn’t do what he’s promised."
And frankly, I don't think it's difficult at all to say about him that he didn't do what he promised. He promised to close Guántanamo Bay in a year; he promised to meet face-to-face with America's enemies. These, and other issues, have a good many Democrats criticizing him.
(He also harps on some of his favorite themes -- Republican obstructionism, for example, which sounds utterly ridiculous when he has majorities in both houses of Congress -- and that bit about "throwing bombs", when Republican criticism of him has been tame indeed compared to the way he, and his supporters, talked about George W. Bush.)
The more he talks like that, the more out-of-touch he looks. And, although Congressional Democrats are distancing themselves from him as much as they possibly can, they still must answer to the voters for supporting President Obama's agenda -- at his insistence -- no matter what it would cost them.
The President will be in for a rude awakening on November 3rd. The polls have been moving in one direction for months, and it's been towards an ever-larger Republican victory at the midterms. Once it seemed unthinkable that the House of Representatives would switch to Republican control; now it seems all but inevitable, and people are even speaking glibly about a Republican majority in the Senate.
If they didn't need to work with him when they were in the minority, they sure won't have to as the majority party. And if they take their cues from him, the "Republican obstructionism" he complains about now will look pleasant indeed in retrospect.